Autumn is widely chosen as a theme for poems. Looking at the scarlet-tinged leaves decorating every corner of the campus, it becomes obvious why poets choose it.
Yet even in autumn poetry is not a popular genre among university students. Although the Centennial Library possesses about 4 times more novels than poetry books, students borrowed novels twenty two times more often than poetry in the last five years, according to the data provided by the library. Some students on campus, however, hope to spread their love of poetry.
“There are prejudices toward poetry which I also had before I fell in love with poetry” explains Song Sum-byul (English Literature, 3), a talented amateur poet whose work had been singled out for final consideration in the Joongang Rookie Literary Award. Song, like many other students, met poems through her middle and high school textbooks which bored her by making her memorize an analysis of each word. But she discovered a new interest in poetry when she tried to read poems for herself.
“Even though poems have certain meanings as analyzed by famous poets, they can always come to you with various meanings. It is like having a secret conversation between only me and a poem,” said song as if introducing her best friend. After awakening to the beauty of poetry, Song reread the poems she had learned in high school. If not, she said, she would have missed the “secret talks” inside the poems. Holding her favorite poetry in her hands, she says she appreciates it everywhere, all the time. This is not because she is eager to be part of the literary world, but simply because of her passion for poetry.
There are also groups of students who welcome “the season of poetry.” It is these students who diffuse the culture of love of poetry inside the campus.
Wednesday is a big day for those who enjoy poetry. Every Wednesday, both Bandomoonhakhui (Bando literary meeting) and Ewhamoonhakhui (Ewha literary meeting) hold sessions for literary criticism. Even the works of famous poets also cannot avoid biting criticism from the students. Bando literary meeting also has study meetings for Ewha’s amateur poets. Students get to learn from well written works by their seniors and also can receive feedbacks on their own poems.
“You may not understand a poem when you first read it, however if you keep on reading it you will reach a point when you feel that your life experiences overlap with what the poem says. This ‘point’ is where you start to realize the beauty of poetry and love it,” said Jeong A-ram (Elementary Education, 2), the president of Bandomoonhakhui.
Beyond mere appreciation, Ewhamoonhakhui, Bandomoonhakhui and Saebyukmoonhakhui (Saebyuk literary meeting), each publish a collection of work by members, written with care. These poems are also displayed in the Student Union building during the May Festival period. No wonder Ewha has produced numerous amateur poets who have become popular in the domestic literary world.
The culture of loving poetry not only exists in extracurricular activity, but also can be seen in class. Professor Lee Eun-jung (Korean Literature) gave very special homework in Understanding Modern Korean Poetry. “It was writing descriptions of own impressions after reading our favorite poems. After that we compiled own ideas together and made a book of poetry just for ourselves,” said Kim Hyun-ha (International Studies, 3) a student in the class.
A preconception is a belief formed before having enough information. Song says, “People are not close with poetry because they have the preconception that it is too complicated to enjoy. However, reading a poem several times and trying to be interested in poetry will change your mind, surely, it is worth a try.”